U (561 - 1466)

ABOVE: U 960 was built with narrow doors which were later converted to wide doors in 1972 - 1974 also note the roller bearings which were quite rare on VR 4 wheel wagons.

Number in group 906
Number group 561 - 1466
Construction period 1908 - 1952
In service 1908 - early 80's
Where built NP and BO
Modeling SEM makes a HO kit
Auscision makes a ready to run HO model

Veteran Models make a etched brass and whitemetal O scale kit.

This was the largest U van group and came in several distinct designs.
# group Year/s built Built Handbrake Roof Doorway (as built)
561 - 991 (431) 1908 - 1919 NP wheel smooth 4' 6"
992 - 1066 (75) 1925 NP wheel corrugated 7' 0"
1067 - 1216 (150) 1934 - 1938 NP & BO wheel corrugated 7" 0"
1217 - 1266 (50) 1938 - 1939 BO lever corrugated 7" 0"
1267 - 1366 (100) 1946 - 1947 NP lever corrugated 7" 0"
1367 - 1466 (100) 1951 - 1952 NP lever corrugated 7" 0"
561 to 1066 were built with 3 axle underframes and link and pin couplers, from the 1930's on they were gradually converted to 2 axle/autocoupled
1067 - 1466 were built with 2 axle undeframes and autocouplers
From 1933 to 1934 60 U's were converted to UB's
A number of plain roof U's got corrugated roofs in later years.

1st Group

The first group were numbered 561 - 991, they featured smooth roofs and narrow doors. They were built with 3 axles and lever handbrakes as shown in the builders photo below. In 1936 they were autocoupled at which time the centre axle was removed and a much heavier leaf spring/W guard installed, a wheel handbrake was also installed at this time. Between 1972 and 1974 128 U's in this group were fitted with wide doors, a small verticle join seam on either side of the doorway is the giveaway. A further modification was the installation of a gutter above the doors, it is not known when this occured.

ABOVE: circa 1908 builders photo of U 565, compare it with the photo below of the same wagon taken 70 years later (Feb 1978 at Dandenong)

ABOVE: U 576 at Williamstown Pier. April 15 1978.

ABOVE: U 586 at Nth Geelong yard, Feb 6 1978. Photo courtesy Geoff Winkler

ABOVE: U 640 at Dandenong Feb 1978

ABOVE: U 695 at Nth Geelong yard July 7 1978. Photo courtesy Geoff Winkler

ABOVE: U 707 at Nth Geelong, Feb 2 1978. Photo courtesy Geoff Winkler

BELOW: U 717 at Dandenong Feb 1978

By the mid 1970's many wide U van doors had been blanked at the bottom to avoid forklift damage. Door blanking didn't seem to be as common on the narrow doors. BELOW: U 778 at Tottenham Jan 1978, note only one door with the blanked door section.

U 857 at West Footscray. Feb. 1978

ABOVE: U 858 showing the original door configuration, photo at Dandenong, Feb 1978.

ABOVE: U 926 at Traralgon March 1978
BELOW: U 946 at Dandenong Feb 1978

BELOW: U 960 photographed in 1978. In 1959 a small number of U's were fitted with roller bearings

ABOVE: U 961 was unique, apparently it was a test for a new type of powder/explosives van, it entered Newport shops March 15 1963 and emerged in this configuration on Oct 1 1964.Photo at Redcliffs Aug. 18 1976, Photo courtesy Peter J. Vincent

BELOW: U 991 was the last plain roof U built. Photo at Dandenong April 1978.

2nd Group

This group of 75 wagons were numbered from 992 - 1066 and were built at Newport in 1925. They were built with corrugated roofs, 7 foot doors and wheel handbrakes, they were the first U's built with wide doors. Most of the UB wagons were converted from this group.

ABOVE: U 1016 at Melb yard Nov. 1976. It was one of the very last advertising U's. Photo courtesy Rob O'Regan

ABOVE: U 1038 at Woodend March 1978. Note that only one door has been blanked at the bottom.

ABOVE: U 1047, circa 1928

ABOVE: U 1051 circa 1928

3rd Group

This group numbered 150 wagons (1067 - 1216) and were built at Newport and Bendigo between 1934 and 1938) They were the last group built with wheel handbrakes and were identical to the 3rd group.

ABOVE: U 1115 circa 1961

ABOVE: U1156 at Newport workshops, Dec. 19 1977. Photo courtesy Geoff Winkler

BELOW: U 1156 at West Footscray March 1978

BELOW: U 1205 at Dandenong Feb 1978. Note the blanking around the shunters grab irons.

Final Group

The final group numbered 1217 - 1466 (250 wagons) and were built at Bendigo and Newport between 1938 and 1952 They are identified by having lever handbrakes, otherwise they were identical to the previous group.

ABOVE: U 1220 at Dandenong Feb. 1978

ABOVE: U 1226 (fitted with roller bearings) at Dandenong Feb 1978.

ABOVE: U 1236 circa 1960.

ABOVE: U 1303 at Dandenong 1978

BELOW: U 1315 at Ranglea, weeks away from being scrapped, March 1978.

BELOW: U 1356 (off reg) at Williamstown Pier Feb 1978.

ABOVE: U 1351 would have been built with a corrugated roof but received this plain roof at some stage, probably as a result of an accident repair. Unlike other plain roof U vans it does not have the tell tale signs of having its door widened. Photo at Melb yard, Dec. 1976 Photo courtesy Rob O'Regan

ABOVE: U 1466 was built at Newport in 1952 and was the last U van built to this design.

ABOVE: VR diagram showing how to load a U van with eggs! (PROV photo)